HOUSTON-Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) has finalized a 20-year lease/purchase agreement with a value in excess of $2 million per year for a 196,000-sf headquarters building and parking garage on 6.7 acres along Northwest Freeway.

Pat Pollan of Yancey-Hausman in Houston, the county’s broker, negotiated a deal that would allow the county to buy the 13013 Northwest Freeway property for $100 at the end of the lease. The seven-story building and three-level parking garage were selected earlier this year from a roster of 13 properties generated by HCAD’s request last summer for proposals for a new location.

Longtime owner Fairfield Financial Group, a local subsidiary of Chicago-based First Bank of Oak Park, won the county’s nod with the 20-year lease/purchase plan, but then decided to sell rather than handle development. Fairfield struck a pass-through deal with locally based Midway Cos. because it had the asset under contract two years ago, says Jonathan Brinsden, Midway’s executive vice president. The property and the county agreement changed hands April 30. Brinsden tells GlobeSt.com that the all-in cost–acquisition, renovation and buying out HCAD’s three-year lease balance–totals about $28.5 million.

HCAD’s plan is to relocate by Jan. 1, 2005, from a 180,000-sf office that it’s occupied since 1986 at 2800 N. Loop West. The structure was vacated several years ago by Cooper Cameron.

Midway will oversee renovations, which includes adding a fourth deck to the parking garage. Locally based Morris Architects is designing the exterior makeover and Kirksey Architecture, also from Houston, is crafting the interior plan. Tellepsen Builders LP of Houston is the general contractor. Bank of America provided construction financing.

“We expect our new facilities to help us achieve about $400,000 a year in savings of taxpayer dollars.” Jim Robinson, HCAD’s chief appraiser, says in a press release. “At the same time, we will be making HCAD offices more user-friendly and expanding our space to accommodate growth.” HCAD has more than 500 employees and a monthly workload of 300,000 telephone calls and 180,000 walk-ins during peak periods.

“Imagine having the entire population of workers in Downtown Houston coming to visit your office every month and you get an idea of the heavy use and volume of traffic this building has to serve,” says Paul Bettencourt, HCAD’s assessor-collector.

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